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Portugal's drought worsens, rainfall down to 7% of average

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By AP
An old village submerged since 1954 when a hydropower dam flooded the valley, rise above the waters of the Zezere River due to drought, in central Portugal, Feb. 17, 2022.
An old village submerged since 1954 when a hydropower dam flooded the valley, rise above the waters of the Zezere River due to drought, in central Portugal, Feb. 17, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Sergio Azenha   -  

Portugal’s winter drought is getting worse, with the national weather agency reporting Monday that 91% of the country is enduring “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions.

Average rainfall for Feb. 1-15 was just 7% of the average over a 30-year period, the IPMA said.

It added that no significant rainfall is expected for the rest of the month, while temperatures are forecast to remain above normal and the drought worsens.

The Portuguese government is already restricting the use of reservoirs for hydroelectric power production, in order to save water for public consumption, and farmers are asking for financial aid because of a lack of grass for their livestock.

Periods of droughts aren't unusual in Portugal, but the country has witnessed an increase in their frequency over the past 20-30 years, IPMA scientists say.

The most recent droughts were in 2005, 2012 and 2017.

Scientists estimate that Portugal will see a drop in average annual rainfall of 20% to 40% by the end of the century.